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SAIC Completes Vibro-Acoustic Test Capability, Facility for NASA
by Staff Writers
McLean VA (SPX) Dec 02, 2011

The facility will replicate vibration and acoustic signatures associated with launch abort scenarios for space exploration vehicles such as the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, which will carry astronauts to the International Space Station and back to the moon in the next decade.

Science Applications International has completed design and construction services, providing NASA with a new vibro-acoustic test capability (VTC). The VTC includes a mechanical vibration facility (MVF) and a reverberant acoustic test facility (RATF), supported by an integrated high-speed data acquisition system, facility control system, and common infrastructure systems.

The MVF is the largest and highest powered spacecraft test capability built to date, and the RATF is the largest high intensity test capability ever built.

SAIC performed comprehensive services for NASA's new vibration and acoustic research facility, which will enhance and support the ongoing development of NASA's Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle.

The new capabilities will also support future NASA research and testing, which is developing spacecraft and other systems to support space exploration missions to the moon, Mars, and other destinations in the solar system. The new VTC specifically addresses vibration and acoustic capabilities to supplement existing thermal/vacuum testing at the Space Power Facility in Sandusky, Ohio.

"SAIC is honored to be a part of the design and construction of this one-of-a-kind capability," said J.T. Grumski, SAIC senior vice president and business unit general manager.

"This cutting-edge facility was delivered through extensive research, development, and application of non-traditional techniques, as well as careful planning of construction methods to meet installation challenges. The SAIC and NASA team was able to push technological boundaries and achieve an unprecedented level of performance."

The completed 101,000 cubic feet RATF is a unique test center with systems and containment structure designed to generate acoustic energy simulating high impulse vibration and acoustic events. It is capable of achieving an empty chamber overall acoustic sound level of 163 decibels.

The facility will replicate vibration and acoustic signatures associated with launch abort scenarios for space exploration vehicles such as the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, which will carry astronauts to the International Space Station and back to the moon in the next decade.

In addition, the MVF can shake up to 75,000 pounds in three axes. The VTC was completed in September 2011 and began operations in October.

"What really made this program a success was our strong partnership with NASA," commented SAIC VTC Program Manager Dennis Nihiser.

"SAIC and its sub-contractors worked diligently and collaboratively with NASA scientists and engineers to ensure all technical, programmatic, communication, permitting, and safety challenges were addressed. We are very pleased to see an outstanding project completed and thank NASA for the opportunity."

Since project completion, NASA has recognized SAIC for its outstanding contributions to the project. The SAIC team received the NASA Space Flight Awareness Team Award in November for its work on the VTC facility. In addition, NASA presented Nihiser with the Orion MPCV Program Manager's Commendation.

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